Dieting 101: Tips for Staying on Track at Work
Posted on 29, April, 2015
Last Modified on 30, April, 2015
For some people, being in an office Monday through Friday provides them with the structure they need to stick to a healthy, balanced diet. For others, eight hours behind a desk causes mindless snacking and encourages the need for a 2 p.m. cookie or soda fix. Here are a few tips on how to maintain healthy eating habits at work and to power your brain and body through the day (with no 2 p.m. crash)!
Pack & Plan
For most, mornings tend to be a mad dash - dogs need to be walked, kids need to get to school, lunches need to be packed, homework can’t be forgotten, traffic needs to be beat…To cut down on stress and prevent grabbing a package of PopTarts for lunch, pack the night before. Make a couple extra servings at dinner to have the following day or give yourself 15 minutes to choose healthier options when you’re not rushing out the door. Invest in a Tupperware set, a lunch box, freezer packs and reusable bottle of water to make organizing, portioning and storing food a breeze.
Be Mindful of Portions
Here’s the situation - your co-worker brought in cake from their daughter’s birthday party and left it in the office kitchen with a note that reads “HELP YOURSELF!” So, you do just that; slowly carving out a little sliver of cake every time you walk by. Before you know it, you’ve had three pieces. According to a recent Huffington Post article, mindless eating like this can happen when your body starts to run on autopilot. It becomes “instinctual” to grab another treat every time you fill your water bottle or hit the bathroom. It’s the same theory that explains what happens when you’re watching a movie and all of a sudden, you’ve eaten an entire bowl of popcorn. To stop your brain from mindlessly scarfing down a bag of potato chips at lunch while you make spreadsheets or tune into an online conference, pack yourself a small, snack-sized baggie and leave the larger bag at home. You’re much less likely to head to the store if you have snacks and meals at the ready. And most of the time, you’ll be satisfied after the smaller portion.
Think in Terms of Color
Work days, especially towards mid-week, can start to feel painfully long - your brain is fried, your body is tired and a nap and a gallon of ice cream sounds like the cure-all to every problem you’ve ever had. Prevent yourself from diving into the loving arms of Ben & Jerry by bringing brain food with you - the more natural color, the better.
- Blue & purple foods: Blueberries, blackberries and plums pack tons of antioxidants.
- Red foods: Bell peppers, strawberries and raspberries are full of vitamin C and natural sugar for a small energy boost.
- Green foods: Think “leafy” like spinach, kale and asparagus. They are essential for brain power and overall health.
Use the 80/20 Rule to Your Advantage
According to Health.com, breaking your diet down into 80% nutritious food and 20% "fun" food (like a burger at happy hour on Friday) is the key to maintaining balance and avoiding the feeling of deprivation. If you know you want to enjoy yourself at an upcoming cookout or you’re looking forward to a piece of cheesecake on date night, balance it by eating nutritious and vitamin-packed meals for the majority of the week. More often than not, forcing yourself to follow a diet where you give up all your favorite foods just leads to a cycle of frustration, deprivation and defeat. Find your happy medium.
Don’t Say "No, Maybe Next Year" to that Fitness Challenge
A lot of companies run annual fitness competitions for their employees. Whether it be a weight-loss competition, yoga in the park a couple evenings a week or entering a color run, Tough Mudder or other event, join the team and show up. Even if you don’t want to compete in the event, participating in the training with your co-workers (and potentially your bosses) gives you a chance to build relationships while getting active and pushing your routine outside of its normal comfort zone. If you already have a consistent gym or exercise schedule or can’t make time to participate with your co-workers, be on the lookout for free classes offered at your gym or by local trainers - you’d be surprised what a free boot camp or kickboxing class once a week can do.
Save Your Waistline AND Wallet
We all know how tempting it can be to order Chinese when everyone else in your office is ordering because let’s be honest - the smells carry! Or how easy it is say to “Sure, I’d love a double-whipped, triple-carbed, extra foam fat, sugar-infused extra grande skinny latte” when someone makes a coffee run. Unfortunately, adding those extra calories doesn’t do much for your goals - fitness-wise or financially. Cut down take out orders from three times a week to one or get a salad instead of a plate of nachos. If you find yourself in a situation where your company supplying lunch, remember the suggestions listed above: Opt for lean protein, colorful veggies and a small “treat”. You don’t have to pile your plate just because it was provided for you.